National Public Health Week 2018

Everyone deserves to live a long and healthy life in a safe environment. To make this happen, we must tackle the causes of poor health and disease risk among individuals and within our communities. Where we live, work, worship and play impacts each of us and can determine our health and how long we live. In the workplace, let’s partner across public and private sectors to make sure decisions are made with the public’s health in mind. Within our communities, let’s start new conversations with our neighbors and be advocates for positive change. Working together, we can build healthier communities and, eventually, the healthiest nation.

During National Public Health Week 2018, the public health community is rallying around a goal of making the U.S. the Healthiest Nation in One Generation — by 2030.

Healthy Gallatin invites you to join us in celebrating National Public Health Week, April 2-6, 2018. National Public Health Week is a time to focus on public health issues with the intention of increasing awareness and broadening the public’s understanding of preventative actions to improve or protect their health. Click through the tabs below to see some of our different efforts to show the reach of public health, and how public health is being applied in Gallatin County. (PS – we’re only hitting the tip of the iceberg here, so be sure to check out the rest of the website to learn more!)

Behavioral HealthCommunicable DiseaseEnvironmental HealthInjury and Violence PreventionEnsuring the Right to Health

Advocate for and Promote Well-Being

About one in every five U.S. adults — or more than 43 million people — experience mental illness in a given year. And one in five youth ages 13 to 18 experiences a severe mental disorder at some point in their lives. Mental illness is associated with billions of dollars in care and lost productivity each year. Our community is no exception to these statistics. Addiction, depression, and suicide are all behavioral health concerns present throughout Montana.

According to the 2017 Community Health Needs Assessment, one in four adults (24.7%) in the tri-county area (Madison, Park, and Gallatin counties) is an excessive drinker (heavy and/or binge drinker). In addition, 2.5% of adults acknowledge using an illicit drug in the past month and 48.9% of survey respondents indicated that their lives have been negatively affected by substance abuse, including 13.7% who reported having been affected “a great deal”.

The 2017 Community Health Needs Assessment also found that 23.7% of adults in Madison, Park, and Gallatin counties have been diagnosed as having a depressive disorder, which ranks worse than both state (19.9%) and national (17.9%) findings.

The annual average age-adjusted suicide rate between 2013 and 2015 was 20 deaths per 100,000 population (Madison, Park, and Gallatin counties). This is slightly lower than the statewide rate (24.3 deaths per 100,000) but higher than the national rate (13.0 deaths per 100,000). In addition, Park County had a considerably higher rate than the rest of the tri-county area (43.1 deaths per 100,000).

What can you do?

Focus on and advocate for improved access to mental and behavioral health services. Use education and training to de-stigmatize mental health diagnoses and encourage people experiencing mental illness to seek treatment. Coverage for mental health services must be on par with physical health services in all health insurance coverage.

Learn more about Behavioral Health.

Mental Health Resources in Gallatin County.


Learn about ways to prevent disease transmission

To date, the world has eradicated only one infectious human disease, smallpox, and one animal disease, rinderpest (though after decades of work, we are closer than ever to eradicating polio, too!). What keeps the rest of those communicable diseases at bay is prevention. And that requires a combination of strong public health systems, access to medical and preventive care, and individual responsibility. No one can fight off infectious disease on his or her own.

State and local public health departments are the frontline fighters against communicable disease. Public health workers monitor our environments for dangerous viruses and bacteria, investigate and contain disease outbreaks, and administer key education and immunization programs. Public health workers are also our first responders, protecting us from emerging communicable disease threats such as Zika, Ebola, and pandemic flu.

Fending off communicable disease requires personal action, too. It’s up to us to get immunized against the flu and encourage our loved ones to do the same.

According to the 2017 Community Health Needs Assessment, for Madison, Park and Gallatin Counties, 68.4% of seniors (age 65+) in the tri-county area received a flu shot within the past year, and 48.3% high-risk adults (individuals 18 to 64 who report having been diagnosed with heart disease, diabetes, or respiratory disease) received a flu shot within the past year.

Remember: immunizations aren’t just about you — it’s also about protecting those for whom vaccine-preventable diseases are a deadly threat, such as the very young, very old and people with compromised immune systems.

What can you do?

Wash your hands. Know your HIV status. Call on employers to support and provide sick leave so sick workers can care for themselves and avoid spreading disease to others. Support comprehensive sexual health education in schools, which can reduce rates of sexually transmitted disease (as well as teen pregnancy). Keep yourself and your families immunized against vaccine-preventable diseases — and get your flu shot!

Learn more about Communicable Disease.

For more information on communicable diseases in our area, go to the 2016 Communicable Disease Report.


Help to Protect and Maintain a Healthy Planet

In the U.S., air pollution contributes to thousands of premature births and costs billions of dollars. In 2007, asthma cost the U.S. $56 billion in medical care, lost productivity and premature death. Costs of childhood lead poisoning are also in the billions (though each dollar invested in controlling the environmental hazard returns up to $200 in savings). The economic benefit of cleaning up mercury and other air toxins is in the billions — not to mention the up to 46,000 premature deaths that could be prevented.

In Montana, this past year’s wild fire season (June-October), reached above normal levels of fire activity. In the month of August, there was no single day when all of the monitoring stations in Montana reported good air quality. Sidney experienced the most healthy days (22 days, 71%), whereas Seeley Lake had the most very unhealthy (14 days, 45%) and hazardous days (11 days, 35%) during August.

Wildfire smoke and poor air quality can have harmful health impacts on people with heart or lung diseases such as asthma, as well as older adults and children. People who fall into these categories should:

  • Consider reducing prolonged or heavy exertion when air quality reaches moderate level.
  • Reduce prolonged or heavy exertion when air quality reaches unhealthy for sensitive groups level.
  • Avoid prolonged or heavy exertion when air quality reaches unhealthy level.
  • Avoid all physical activity outdoors when air quality reaches very unhealthy or hazardous levels.

Everyone should avoid all physical activity outdoors when air quality reaches very unhealthy or hazardous levels.

The majority of wildfires that occur in Montana are caused by lightening, meaning there is not much we can do to prevent them. However, it is important to know how to protect yourself from poor air quality. Resources like Today’s Air help keep people updated on air quality and recommendations.

What can you do?

Reduce our collective carbon emissions footprint. Transition to renewable energies. Protect our natural resources and use evidence-based policy to protect our air, water and food. Support environmental health efforts that monitor our communities for risks and develop health-promoting interventions. Call for transportation planning that promotes walking, biking and public transit — it not only reduces climate-related emissions, but helps us all stay physically active.

Learn more about Environmental Health.

Local Environmental Health Resources.


Learn about the effects of injury and violence on health.

In 2016, preventable unintentional injuries took the lives of a record 161,000 Americans and became the nation’s third leading cause of death. The U.S. unintentional injury rate spiked 10 percent between 2015 and 2016 — the biggest single-year increase since 1936. Much of that spike was driven by an opioid overdose epidemic that kills about 115 people every day.

Overall, injury and violence (intentional and unintentional) take the lives of nearly 200,000 people in the U.S. every year — it is the No. 1 cause of death for Americans ages 1 to 44. In Montana, it is the No. 3 leading cause of death. Between 2013 and 2015, the annual average age-adjusted unintentional injury mortality rate was 39.8 deaths per 100,000 in Madison, Park, and Gallatin counties. Leading causes of accidental death included: motor vehicle accidents (34.3%), falls (23.3%), and poisoning, including accidental drug overdose (17.1%).

One contributing factor to unintentional injury and death are firearms. In the tri-county area, the annual average age-adjusted death rate between 2013 and 2015 was 13.9 deaths per 100,000 population due to firearms. In addition, 62.8% of adults in the tri-county area reported having a firearm kept in or around their home. Among households with children, two-thirds (66.7%) have a firearm kept in or around the home (much higher than what is reported nationally). Among households in the tri-county area, 21% report there is at least one weapon that is kept unlocked and loaded.

In 2016, there were 1.1 million incidents of domestic violence, and one in every six American women have been the victim of attempted rape or rape. In the tri-county area, 14.7% of adults acknowledge that they have ever been hit, slapped, pushed, kicked, or otherwise hurt by and intimate partner.

U.S. motor vehicles deaths topped 37,000 in 2016, a more than 5% increase over 2015 (especially concerning is the rate of unbelted deaths, which went up 4.6%). In Madison, Park, and Gallatin counties, 78.6% of adults report “always” wearing a seat belt when driving or riding in a vehicle (nationally, 87.9%).

What can you do?

Increase funding to programs that reduce and prevent community violence. Advocate for occupational health and safety standards that keep workers safe on the job. Support policies that save those struggling with addiction from a fatal drug overdose. Many injuries are preventable with the appropriate education, policy and safety measures.

Learn more about the effects of Injury and Violence Protection.



Advocate for everyone’s right to a healthy life

All people deserve the opportunity to live long, healthy and productive lives. In fact, offering all people the tools and conditions associated with better health and less disease is an investment that comes with generations of positive returns.

Ensuring the right to health means ensuring access to affordable, quality insurance coverage. Research shows that going without health insurance increases a person’s risk of death, while expanding access to coverage can reduce mortality and increase the chance that a person reports being in good health. In the last few years, the U.S. has come a long way in reducing its uninsured: Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 20 million more people have gained health coverage, dropping the national uninsured rate from more than 16% in 2013 to 10% in early 2016. Still, about 28 million people in the U.S. lack health insurance.

According to the 2017 Community Health Needs Assessment, for Madison, Park and Gallatin Counties, 65.8% of adults in the tri-county area report having healthcare coverage through private insurance; 21.5% report having coverage through a government-sponsored program (Medicaid, Medicare, military benefits). In contrast, 12.7% of adults age 18 to 64 report having no insurance coverage for healthcare expenses, a statistically significant decrease from 2011 survey findings (22%). Key informants from the community identified mental health services and substance abuse treatment as the most difficult to access in the community.

Ensuring the right to health means creating the conditions that enable good health, acknowledging the inequities that perpetuate poor health, and considering health in all policies. For example: research shows that asthmatic children who live in green homes experience a much lower risk of asthma symptoms; communities that improve neighborhood sidewalks help encourage physical activity; better product labeling can help people eat healthier; and boosts in the minimum wage can result in more babies being born at a healthy weight and fewer infant deaths.

What can you do?

Everyone deserves an opportunity to live a life free from preventable disease and disability. The places where we live, learn, work, worship and play should promote our health, not threaten it. That’s why creating the healthiest nation requires a dogged focus on achieving health equity for all.

Learn more about the right to a healthy life.

Local resources to help you live a healthy life.